HIPAA for Elder Care Attorneys

Elder care attorneys are lawyers that represent elderly clients or those individuals who care from them. Elder law attorneys work on legal matters that affect the elderly and disabled. Such matters involve issues relating to health care and health care insurance, long-term care and long-term care planning, guardianship, powers of attorney, medical malpractice, healthcare proxies, retirement benefits, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other similar matters. Knowledge for HIPAA for elder care attorneys is essential for lawyers who work on such issues. 

Core practice activities of elder care attorneys include financial and estate planning activities, as well as activities that address day-to-day healthcare needs of seniors. Such activities include resolving legal issues related to an elderly individual’s application for, placement in, and treatment provided by, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, skilled nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

What is HIPAA for Elder Care Attorneys?

Simply put, HIPAA elder care lawyers requires that lawyers that represent elderly individuals with respect to health care proxy, power of attorney, or other issues that require the lawyer to act as a business associate, to have a working knowledge of the HIPAA rules. These rules include:

Covered entities under HIPAA include health plans, healthcare providers, and healthcare clearinghouses. Health plans include health insurance companies, health maintenance organizations, and government programs that pay for healthcare. These government programs include Medicare and Medicaid plans.

A “business associate” is a person or entity that performs certain functions or activities that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information on behalf of, or provides services to, a covered entity. A member of the covered entity’s workforce is not a business associate.

An eldercare firm acts as a business associate when it engages in the following activities (among others):

  • When it obtains or requests medical records containing PHI from a covered entity, to assist the covered entity in making legal determinations.
  • When it provides legal services to a covered entity that involve access to PHI
  • When, during the representation of a covered entity doctor who is sued, the attorney receives patient records containing PHI from that doctor
  • When the eldercare lawyer represents an insurer in a claim filed against the insurer by a claimant
  • When a covered attorney asks the eldercare lawyer to review a healthcare proxy or power of attorney to ensure the document has been prepared with the requisite legal formalities.
  • When an eldercare attorney, in providing legal services to a health plan, reviews a benefits claim containing PHI.  

When performing these activities, eldercare lawyers must understand how HIPAA restricts uses and disclosures of PHI, the types of entities it governs, and the protections it requires for electronic PHI.